Gone Baby Gone

 

Gone Baby Gone

Directed by Ben Aflleck

2007


Cast:

Casey Affleck

Morgan Freeman

Michelle Monaghan

Amy Madigan

Ed Harris

Amy Ryan

John Ashton


Studio:

Theatrical: Miramax & HanWay Films

Video: Miramax Home Entertainment


Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Feature film: 1080p

Codec: VC-1

Disc Size: 34.93 GB

Feature Size: 29.63 GB

Bit Rate: 23.51 Mbps

Runtime: 114 minutes

Chapters: 21


Audio:

English LPCM 5.1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1


Subtitles:

Feature: English SDH, French, Spanish

Extras: English SDH, French, Spanish


Extras

•  Audio commentary by the director Affleck & writer Aaron Stockard

• Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Aflleck (HD)

• Casting Gone Baby Gone (HD)

• Deleted Scenes w/optional commentary by the director & writer

• Alternate Ending


Presentation:

Locking Blu-ray case

Release Date: February 12, 2008



The Score Card


Comment

Gone Baby Gone is not only the first feature film directed by Ben Affleck (no kidding!) but a real collaboration between Ben and Casey - his younger brother by three years, in case you were wondering.  It may be that Gone Baby Gone will settle the question of their respective talents for Ben turns in a directorial effort more engaging than any of his acting to this point.  This may be seen from the outset as Aflleck's camera scans the Boston neighborhood where much of the action will take place, and as Casey's voiceover sets up the question of character development.


     


We are reminded at once of the opening of The Departed.  Scorsese may find more art, but less soul.  We feel we have quite dropped in on an actual neighborhood instead of a Hollywood stand-in for one.  The people we see on doorsteps and playing on the streets in Affleck's city are so not Central-Casting that we might feel a bit like intruders – like a whiter version of Baltimore's The Wire.  Not that Ben is able to keep up this level of coherence in every part of the movie, but it's a very promising first effort: perhaps not as secure as L.A. Confidential or Mystic River (also written by novelist Dennis Lehane) – but it is certainly more thought provoking and more ambiguous than the former and less calculating than the latter.


     


All in all, Gone Baby Gone is quite a bit better than your average feature length crime drama of recent years.  Once we learn the motives for the crime, and we do, nothing is black and white, which is only one of the many things that make this movie interesting.


I can't say that I have been following brother Casey's career closely, though I do remember him as one of Nicole Kidman's trio of lost students from To Die For.  I thought his Ocean's 11 franchise character to be fairly disposable, but in The Assassination of Jesse James he comes into his own, as his many acting award nom's prove.  Casey has a tendency to mumble or, at least, to speak so quietly that I imagine he would be lost on a stage.  Time will tell if this is just a ruse to seduce the audience into paying attention.  That said, I thought it worked fairly well for his tentative character in Gone Baby Gone.


     


The Movie : 8

Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) is a small time private detective who works with his partner/girlfriend Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) to find missing persons.  He says, "I find people who started in the cracks – and then fell through."  When her 4-year old niece goes missing, desperate Bea McCready (Amy Madigan), seeing no results from Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), implores Kenzie to help on the investigation.  Kenzie realizes from even before they start that he is way out of his league on this one, having no previous experience with kidnappings, though he knows the neighborhood and the "streets" and its low-life denizens.  But the tug of this particular case compels him to try.  He is told by Bea "at least you can do no harm."  Kenzie & Angie team up with two detectives (Ed Harris & John Ashton) who take them deep into the uglies that test their sense of morality and justice.


     


Image : 9/9

As is usual for on-location photography, sharpness and focus varies considerably from scene to scene, but the transfer appears to suggest a theatrical experience with no transfer artifacts that made themselves known.  The noise we think we see is really grain largely a function of the film stock.  Lighting and color is natural - the equivalent of a no-makeup look.  Blacks tend to bunch up some hiding shadow detail, which might be a good thing, considering the subject.


     


Audio & Music : 9/9

The music of Harry Gregson-Williams provides a perfect counterpoint to the despairing mood of the story.  The audio mix allows for the various climactic moments of whacking gunfire which, by the way, are not realized in ear-splitting action thriller fashion – a relief.  Bass is robust in the hip-hop music; dialogue is cler, even when spoken sotto voce.


     


Operations : 7

Miramax Blu-ray DVDs are distributed by Buena Vista whose hand can be seen in their usual endless promos and previews that, mercifully, can be chapter-skipped before the endless loading of the feature film begins.  On the other hand, I found the menu operations to be excellent, making use of a small neat font similar to the feature film's credits.


     


Extras : 5

Given how interesting I thought the casting was, especially in the small supporting roles, I was delighted to see a short featurette on the subject – in high-definition no less. This and the commentary by writer/director Affleck and co-writer Aaron Stockard are the main extra features of worth. The Blu-ray case promises a "thought-provoking extended ending".  Not really.  It's nearly identical, except that Kenzie's voiceover returns to bookend his comments about character development from the beginning of the film.  Sensible from a literary perspective, but not as cinematic as the ending chosen.


     


Recommendation : 9

If you haven't already made the move to Hi-Def, Disney’s Gone Baby Gone makes for another subtle reason to do so - not only for the quality of the image but because of the way that image, still and in motion, involves us.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

February 9, 2008



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